The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday said it would not present any witness to defend its case against the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The petitioners had closed their case on July 19 after presenting 62 witnesses to support their petition which is challenging the outcome of the February 23 presidential election in which the electoral umpire declared President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner.
The five-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba thereafter adjourned further proceedings till today, Monday for INEC to open its defense.
However, when called upon by the tribunal to open his case, IINE’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN ) said it would not be necessary on the grounds that the evidence extracted from the petitioners’ witnesses during cross-examination was in support of the Commission’s case.
Usman said: “We have painstakingly reviewed the evidence of petitioners’ witnesses. We have also painstakingly studied the petitioners’ evidence under cross-examination which supports our defense and our denial in consonance with our pleadings.
“My lords, we do not see the need to waste your lordship’s precious time by repeating what their witnesses have repeated under cross-examination.
“In that circumstance, we will not call any witness to help them prove their case. We, therefore rely on the evidence of their witness under cross-examination.”
In their submissions, Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) requested to be allowed to open his client’s case at 2 : 00 pm on Tuesday while APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) said his decision on whether or not to call witnesses would depend on the case to be presented by the President’s legal team.
Responding, the petitioners’ lawyer, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN) thanked the legal team of the electoral commission for not calling witnesses.